Posted by 18 December 2018
A centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is the individual mandate – a government requirement that someone must be covered by health insurance or pay a fine. The Trump Administration has made this mandate moot, but that does not mean that state governments cannot impose one. That is what some Maryland legislators will be pushing to enact next year.
The idea being floated in Maryland would require an individual to be covered by some sort of health insurance, whether through a government program like Medicaid or through the purchase of private insurance. Those who do not have such coverage will face a fine of $750 or 2.5% of a household’s income. However, that fine can be used as payment for the purchase of health insurance through the state exchange.
Supporters of this mandate say it is necessary because the Trump Administration essentially ended the federal insurance mandate by setting its penalty for non-compliance at zero dollars. They argue that the only way for insurance to be affordable is if everyone participates in the system. Opponents counter that insurance is expensive, so it makes no sense to force people to buy a costly product they may not be able to afford. Instead, they say, the state should focus on measures that would reduce the cost of health insurance in the state so more people buy it.
It is unclear if there are enough votes in the heavily-Democratic General Assembly to pass this individual insurance mandate. If it emerges from the legislature, it would have to be signed into law by Republican Governor Larry Hogan. He has not indicated if he would support it or not.
Do you think that states should mandate that individuals purchase health insurance or face a fine?